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Philadelphia Zoo Philadelphia Zoo Creatures of Habitat

Discussion in 'United States' started by Zoo Visitor, 23 Apr 2010.

  1. Zoo Visitor

    Zoo Visitor Well-Known Member

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    I would really like to know what lifelong zoo advocates and zookeepers and staff think about the Philadelphia Zoo's new Creatures of Habitat attraction.

    According to the Zoo's Chief Marketing Officer, the Lego brick sculpture attraction "is not only a new kind of exhibit for us, but it also reflects a big shift in how we define the zoo to our visitors."

    Is this the right direction for a zoo to go? Will other zoos follow the lead?

    Will looking at Lego creatures inspire more interest in wildlife conservation than observing real live animals does?

    What do you think, and why?
     
  2. reduakari

    reduakari Well-Known Member

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    It's called: "we need something new for the summer season but we don't have the money to build/staff a new animal exhibit." Nothing wrong with it--I'm sure they'd rather be touting a new elephant exhibit or baby rhino, but when money's tight.....

    Legos = interest in wildlife conservation? I sincerely doubt it
     
  3. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

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    Zoos have to bring the visitors back each year...visitors who otherwise go to amusement parks, beaches, the latest blockbuster movie, etc.It was not so long ago that zoos started adding seasonal features like Dinomation or zip lines. Butterfly exhibits, sting ray touch experiences and lorikeet feeding opportunities were a step forward from that. Once one zoo did it, more followed. Lego animals is a step back.

    Some years ago Philadelphia added the balloon ride which I believe has been financially successful. But other zoos have not followed that example. This Lego thing, on the other hand, is rented to them (like the sting ray exhibits and mazes are) so I do expect other zoos to do it.

    I agree with reduakari. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
    But don't mix it up with conservation education or appreciation of wildlife.
     
  4. Zoo Visitor

    Zoo Visitor Well-Known Member

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    According to Amy Shearer, the Zoo's Chief Marketing Officer, Creatures of Habitat is "not only a new kind of exhibit for us, it also reflects a big shift in how we define the zoo to our visitors."

    see http://www.topix.net/content/prweb/...-different-nature-creative-shop-partners-with

    A Venture of a Different Nature — Creative Shop Partners With Philadelphia Zoo on Transformative New Exhibit - News & PR Daily

    Doesn't this sound like more than a summer season attraction?
     
    Last edited: 24 Apr 2010
  5. Zoo Visitor

    Zoo Visitor Well-Known Member

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    The Zoo owns the Lego creatures, and may possibly rent them out to other zoos.
     
    Last edited: 24 Apr 2010
  6. Zoo Visitor

    Zoo Visitor Well-Known Member

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    You have to take a step back?
     
  7. Zoo Visitor

    Zoo Visitor Well-Known Member

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    Also: "to help translate the Zoo's conservation mission into "something visitors would relate and respond to," as Shearer describes it. The first step would be creating an identity for the zoo's overarching conservation program called "Footprints."

    And then Creatures of Habitat to draw in the visitors.

    My question is, Will visitors relate and respond to Lego creatures? Is this a good approach to teaching about and inspiring an interest in wildlife conservation?
     
  8. reduakari

    reduakari Well-Known Member

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    [QUOTE

    Doesn't this sound like more than a summer season attraction?[/QUOTE]

    No, it sounds like an attempt to make something out of nothing--an important strategy for cash-starved zoos
     
  9. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

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    Well, I don't get it, @zoovisitor.
    You say you want to know what we think and then debate us.
    You offer one article that hails this smart branding exercise and another about marketing and suggest this is an important step for inspiring wildlife conservation.

    Here's the exhibit



    Looks like a normal zoo summer event to me. Nothing more, nothing less
    Of course visitors will relate to Lego creatures. But will they become active conservationists after seeing these sculpture/toys? I dunno....do you think they will?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 6 Jul 2017
  10. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands

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    OMG, the woman doing that voice-over needs to find another occupation, she is shocking!
     
  11. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    I actually thought it was just a home video where the woman was pretending to do a news report sort of thing, but I just had a look on youtube and she's "Donna from Philly Tourism", apparently a video posted as part of the city's tourist department
     
  12. Zoo Visitor

    Zoo Visitor Well-Known Member

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    This is one of my videos showing the Creatures of Habitat and their real life counterparts.

    YouTube - ZooVisitorMM's Channel

    I just think looking at the real animals inspires a sense of awe that translates to an interest in wildlife conservation that will last a lifetime. But the Lego creations inspire mostly an interest in building with Legos, and the education stations associated with those creations (located elsewhere in the Zoo) attract children whose interest is mostly in collecting trading cards.

    I am observing that the visitors are fascinated by the Lego creatures, but are not reading the informational signs that are posted at the exhibits. The children who approach the interactive education stations to get their trading cards for the most part do not know the necessary answers and need to be led or guided by the presenters to come up with answers just to get the card.

    And not all the visitors are making the effort to find the real, live counterparts in the Zoo.

    So I am thinking it would have been better, and probably less costly, to try to attract visitors to the Zoo by having website features designed to engage the public with the real polar bears, golden lion tamarins, penguins, etc. in the Zoo.

    I think it would have been better to make the zoo animals the feature attractions, and provide opportunites to feed those animals, to supply materials for and create enrichment items for them, to watch them be trained, and so on. (The Zoo does some of these things occasionally, but visitors have to know about the opportunities, sign up in advance, and pay extra. They are basically promoted only to members and are not regular, frequent events.)

    I think the visitors' attention has to be focused on the zoo animals first, and then it can be expanded to wildlife in general.
     
  13. Zoo Visitor

    Zoo Visitor Well-Known Member

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    No. (See my complete answer below (or above, whichever way the prior comments go). It is based on based on my observations so far and my lifelong love of zoos.)
     
    Last edited: 26 Apr 2010
  14. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, @zoovisitor, for your candid and thorough response.
    We agree :D
     
  15. Zoo Visitor

    Zoo Visitor Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, too. I think everyone knows how much I love the Philadelphia Zoo and how supportive I am of most of what it does. But closing the elephant exhibit, and now the staff time being spent on, the development of a whole new website section, and all the commercial/advertising emphasis on the Creatures of Habitat attraction are just not good in my opinion.

    This leads to one further concern I would like to know your thoughts about. PETA loves the Creatures of Habitat attraction. Already on forums I have seen anti-zoo people tout the Philadelphia Zoo for showing the world it is possible to inspire an interest in wildlife conservation without using live animals to get visitors' attention.

    Am I being overly concerned and over-reacting simply because I hate the way PETA and other anti-zoo people talk about zoos?

    And am I wrong to worry that if Creatures of Habitat is perceived to be successful, it will start a trend toward fewer live animals in zoos, or possibly towards zoos slowly transforming into something more like environmental centers and natural history museums?
     
    Last edited: 29 Apr 2010
  16. mweb08

    mweb08 Well-Known Member

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    Fewer live animals is a problem typically, however, in this case of the elephants at PHI, it's a good thing imo. If a zoo can't provide a decent home for the animals, they shouldn't keep them.
     
  17. Zoo Visitor

    Zoo Visitor Well-Known Member

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    I think the Philadelphia Zoo did provide a good home for the elephants. Please see my YouTube playlist of videos I personally recorded of the elephants during the year prior to the closing of the exhibit.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/ZooVisitorMM#p/c/51C1FD7C402D0631/3/r5sauaVZR18

    In addition to this visual evidence, Carol Buckley, then CEO of the Elephant Sanctuary, said Dulary (the Philadelphia Zoo elephant sent to the Sanctuary prior to the final closing of the exhibit) was in excellent health and had obviously received very good care during the 41 years she had lived at the Philadelphia Zoo.

    That statement actually angered her supporters. But it was true. And I was very glad she said it publicly.

    I was very disappointed that the Philadelphia Zoo didn't make more of an effort to raise funds to expand and renovate the elephant exhibit the way most other zoos that had originally said they would close their elephant exhibits but then changed and kept their elephants have done.

    And now that I see all this staff time, zoo funds, zoo-sponsorship-seeking efforts, and advertising/promotion efforts being given to a LEGO exhibit, I am even more disappointed.

    I really think zoos should not waver from their original contention that seeing animals on TV, in movies, in books, OR as LEGO creations does NOT inspire compassion for wildlife or an interest in saving wildlife habitats as well as being in the presence of real, live wild animals does.
     
  18. mweb08

    mweb08 Well-Known Member

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    I've been to the Philadelphia Zoo and I disagree that their elephant exhibit is good enough. It's rather small.

    I also do think TV and movies can inspire a lot of compassion and interest in wildlife. However, seeing the animals in person is obviously wonderful as well.